Seoul is a sprawling city. Not only does the city center boast some 10 million citizens, but the satellite cities in the metro area boost that number to almost 25 million in the blink of an eye. As real estate became scarce, more and more Seoullites have flooded to the suburbs. This shift in locales for many necessitated the need to ride the rails into the center of Seoul for work. The hub of transportation: Seoul Station. This facility sees millions of travelers each and every day, but before the current, modern building opened to accommodate Korea’s high-speed trains, there was another gateway to the city.
Construction began on the original Seoul Station in 1922 and was ultimately completed in 1925. Renowned Japanese architect Tsukamoto Yasushi spearheaded the project and fashioned the station after many others of the period. In fact, Seoul Station is reminiscent of many Japanese railway stations of the early 20th Century; however, Seoul’s large copper dome made it unique. After liberation, through the Korean War, and during Korea’s economic boom, the station continued to greet visitors to Seoul before it went dormant.
After a two-year restoration project, the facilities have re-opened and serve a new function. While keeping with its historic stylings, the interior has been modified and now serves as a cultural complex under a new name: Seoul Cultural Station 284. The 284 denotes the station’s place on a list of historical and cultural assets. The old Central Hall on the first floor of the building has been transformed into a space for exhibitions, events and cafes, while the second floor has been similarly renovated into a multi-purpose hall for performances, exhibitions, seminars and conferences.
In celebration of its reopening, Seoul Cultural Station 284 has launched an art project titled ‘Countdown,’ through which 35 Korean modern artists will be producing their work until the next February to go inside the complex. Visitors to Seoul Cultural Station 284 will be able to view the artwork free of charge through September 30, 2011.
The second floor exhibits also include displays from the station’s past. Ripped apart walls and relics from the turn of the past century fill two rooms, giving visitors a chance to learn more about the architectural history of the complex. Once more the Korean government has shown its commitment to expanding cultural offerings by revitalizing this historic building.
At present, none of the planned cafes are completed. However, Seoul Station Plaza has an array of restaurants and coffee shops to fill anyone’s needs. Furthermore, Seoul Square is located across the plaza, providing additional sources of nourishment if needed. Once the facilities are fully ready, it promises to be an elegant reception center. The halls on the second floor are perfect for seminars and its many smaller rooms ideal for intimate conversations. When traveling to Seoul by rail, be sure to spend an extra hour visiting this unique historical treasure.
Bongnae-dong 2-ga 122
Subway Lines 1 and 4
Weekdays: 11:00-20:00 (August 2011), 11:00-19:00 (September 2011-February 2012)
* Closed on Mondays & January 1st
* Last admission is 1 hour before the closing time
* Present – September 30: Free
* October 1, 2011 – February 11, 2012
Adults 2,000 won
Children 1,000 won